Amplifying on a point stressed by Berry, Aldrich noted that a diverse workforce will be very important to future business success. The minority workforce pool is growing, and opportunities for minorities and women need to be enhanced.
The committee draws several general conclusions from the data and perspectives summarized above, as follows:
Although there are currently some problems in meeting demand, particularly for specific skills, the situation for major employers such as the DOD and the large aerospace companies is not now a major problem.5
Data on employment demand are difficult to obtain, particularly broken down by relevant skill areas, and those data and projections that exist are often ambiguous as one looks beyond the near-term future.
Most longer-term projections do forecast a gap between supply and demand that is larger than exists today. However, the size and the scope of the gap are not clear.
The problems with meeting future demand in the DOD are influenced by the need to employ U.S. citizens and permanent residents who can obtain security clearances.
NASA’s workforce pool will be constrained in a fashion similar to the DOD’s to the extent that NASA must hire people who can work in areas controlled by ITAR.
NASA’s mono-generational employee age distribution (see Chapter 2) is different from the distribution seen for the DOD and industry, both of which were described at the workshop as being either bimodal or more nearly like the distribution of the U.S. workforce as a whole.
The committee notes that this does not contradict the conclusions of the recent National Academies’ study Rising Above the Gathering Storm (see Chapter 1, footnote 3), which addressed the threat to U.S. economic competitiveness, not a current shortage of scientists and engineers for aerospace and defense needs.